(KMOV) -- Wednesday night, TRICARE, the health care program for millions of military members, retirees, and their families announced a data breach that affects an estimated 4.9 million people.
Read TRICARE's statement here: www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/Download/Forms/DataBreach_PublicStatement.pdf
Science Applications International Corporation reported that one of its employees was driving backup computer tapes from one federal office to another in San Antonio, Texas. At one point, the car was broken into and the backup tapes were stolen. SAIC says it won't disclose how many tapes were taken, but says only "some" were encrypted.
The tapes that were lost included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, and medical treatment information of patients who were treated at San Antonio military treatment facilities (or patients who have had lab work processes there) from 1992 until September 7, 2011.
TRICARE and SAIC say they are working to identify all the beneficiaries whose information may have been lost and notify the affected people. TRICARE says that the risk of harm to patients is low because the thief would have to have access to specific hardware and software and know how to pull the data from the tapes.
Jarrett Kolthoff, who runs a cyber security firm called SpearTip, LLC, says people should be concerned.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to grab that information and than use that data in a nefarious manner," said Kolthoff.
"If it was unencrypted, my concern would be the leverage that somebody could use against individuals."
TRICARE is directing members of the military and TRICARE members with questions to call the SAIC Incident Response Center. Calls will be answered Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central Time.
In the U.S.: (855) 366-0140
International beneficiaries can call: (952) 556-8312